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Nolan Young
Ms. Gerber
English 9 Honors
23 Oct. 2014
The Power of Storytelling
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. This means six different people are hurt
and degraded every minute. Kids are not supposed to get hurt by grown people for ignorant and
irresponsible mistakes. Physical or mental abuse causes trauma to any human being, no matter
the severity of the abuse. Children that are abused now have a story to tell just like T.J. Jones. In
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher T.J. Jones is a witness to horrible acts of abuse. He was not only
abused, but sees the abuse of children and women as well. T.J. was also abused as a child too.
His story puts him right in the middle of the abuse of people such as Heidi and Chris Coughlin.
He tries to encourage people in Cutter to follow him on the right path and teach them kindness.
His story telling is meant for all ages to understand the affects of these horrible acts. T.J. tells his
story to teach people morality through traumatic situations like domestic abuse, racism, and
murder because he experiences these horrible acts.
The first reason for T.J. to tell his story is domestic abuse and to teach people moralistic
actions in domestic abuse. T.J. has the motivation to fight domestic abuse and does not stand
down. Domestic abuse is a central conflict for T.J. to tell his story as he uses Chris as an example
in this scene, "He only wanted to make Chris pass out, not cause permanent brain damage" (19).
This scene is T.J. explaining Chris Coughlin's beginnings. T.J. tells about how Chris was
addicted to crack as a baby and how his childhood has affected his future. Also, T.J. explains
how Chris was abused and mentally damaged from saran wrap .This is one of the reasons T.J.

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tells his story. Chris is not only an example, but living proof that domestic abuse is wrong. It
causes kids to become mentally challenged and gain horrific memories from these ignorant
mistakes. Chris is just one of the many kids in the novel with a depressing story. To illustrate
T.J.s hate for domestic abuse he tells how Kristen Sweetwater was attacked, He kept telling me
to strip, and Id say no and hed punch my arm Kristen Sweetwater (193). Kristen Sweetwater is
telling how she is abused by and attacked by her boyfriend. T.J. tries to help Kristen with this
problem, but her boyfriend fights back and enjoys beating on Kristen. T.J. is willing to fight for
Kristen and help her through her troubles. This account is a motive for T.J. to fight domestic
abuse. Kristen is a cause and effect person throughout the novel. She is abused by her boyfriend,
but her scars and bruises are proof on why domestic abuse is horrible; these show physical
reasons that give T.J. proof and a motive to tell his story.
Racism is seen throughout the novel and is a way for T.J. to teach morality. Heidi is Rich
Marshalls daughter who is brain washed into being racist. This racism is seen through T.J.
during her therapy session with Georgia, In a calm voice Georgia tells me [T.J.] to yell at Heidi
for letting the black dolls in the house, and I finally piece together from Heidi that Im also
supposed to find them one by one, scream at Heidi for letting them get in (Get these n*****
babies out the house! They stinky!), and throw them out, and it wouldnt hurt if I kicked or
punched them while Im at it (93). This means that Heidi is convinced that people with darker
skin color are horrible people. Heidi is in a therapy session with Georgia to help her with her
problems. She is absolutely crazed over killing the dolls and getting the dolls out of the house.
Every thought she has about the dolls is a thought about racism. This matters because the racism
is caused by Rich Marshall. He is the instigator of racism throughout the novel. Heidi has chosen
to become racist and hurt herself because she is a darker skin color. Her belief for racism runs so

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deep she harms herself. In Cutter, racism is everywhere in the town and T.J. is trying to stop it.
Characters such as Mike Barbour also show they are racist and white supremacists. Rich comes
to look for Heidi and says some inappropriate words to Heidi and T.J.s family, N***** girl.
Come here to me. Wheres your momma (173)? This implies that Rich Marshal dislikes Heidi
because she is black. Rich goes to T.J.s house to find Heidi and take her with him which is not
moralistic. Then T.J.s dad comes out with a baseball bat to protect Heidi and his family. Rich
also does not like Heidis mother because she is also black. This matters because the racism is
exploited everywhere in the novel, and influences everyone throughout the novel. Rich hates T.J.
and Heidi because they are different skin colors; and they hate seeing Rich because of his mean
actions. Throughout the novel he expresses his hate for other races. Rich is persistent on trying to
hurt T.J. and Heidi. All of his hatred is from the ignorance of racism and gives T.J. a motive to
tell his story.
The murder of T.J.s father gives T.J. an example to show why murder is wrong and teach
morality instead of murder. Since T.J.s dad is family to T.J., the power to preach that murder is
wrong is multiplied to an infinite extent. Although Rich had aimed for Heidi, the death of T.J.s
father allows T.J. to tell his story about the negatives of murder in this quote, Rich levels the
barrel on Heidi, the one person whose loss would touch us all most. Dad whirls at the sound of
my voice and instinctively dives in front of the bullet (287). This part of the novel Rich
Marshall is about to commit the death of Heidi. But, T.J.s dad jumps in front of the bullet to save
Heidi. Heidi is safe and Rich is in jail. This means Rich is ready to kill anything that stands in his
way. Killing is seen throughout the novel and forces T.J. to prove that murder is wrong. This
account emotionally changes T.J.. Now, T.J. now has an emotional connection to this incident
and others involving murder. To illustrate the connection and sadness of his fathers last words,

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T.J. therefore tells his story, This doesnt feel good, T.J. I dont think we have much time (287).
T.J. and his father have their last moments together in this scene. This quote is T.J.s father giving
T.J. some last minute advice and last minute love to T.J. This is the last major bond T.J. to share
with his father that is in the process of dying. These bonds have a special connection to murder
throughout the novel. Bonds allow people in the book to become closer like family. Because
T.J.s father is passing away, T.J. gains an intention to fight and teach lessons about murder. The
lesson throughout the novel is that murder is wrong and needs to be ended. Just like the deer,
Rich is absolutely ruthless to living organisms and is capable to kill people and animals. T.J. tells
his story because of murder and horrific acts from Rich.
T.J. telling his story possibly will cause kids to have safer and more nurturing homes because
of his moralistic thoughts. The trauma and hatred to these children will become less apparent in
society. Because of domestic abuse, racism, and murder T.J. has gained the motive to tell his
story. Stories are often passed down from generation to generation. Storytelling can change live
and give hope when all is lost. It can help people become better people and live a better life. But
only people can affect people. Not money, not power, not greed can change people. T.J. has
experienced nothing but negative thoughts and actions throughout his story. Instead of a report
made every ten seconds, perhaps T.J.s story will cause a report to be made every minute. Society
is always constantly adapting to the world. T.J., as another person in the world, has changed the
way society thinks and acts. Causing society to pose the question: Who else will follow T.J. in
his path to end these horrible acts?

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Works Cited
Crutcher, Chris. Whale Talk. New York: Greenwillow, 2001. 298. Print.